Ebony is a type of hard and dense black wood that can be polished to a high lustre for an almost metallic finish. Various tree species belonging to the ebony family, Ebenaceae, thrive in Africa, Australia, Asia and tropical areas of North and South America. However, according to Ebony by Agora’s ebony wood suppliers, there are different uses and values for different types of the wood. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re trying to recognise ebony from your ebony wood suppliers.


The heartwood, or the inner part of the wood, is dark in colour, while the sapwood, the part surrounding the core, is lighter in colour. In older trees, the heartwood may be darker. In some ebony species, both the heartwood and sapwood may be light in colour. Colours may also vary by sample, and a brownish tinge or streak may be evident in many samples. Classification of ebony wood is based in part on the depth of the colour. Pieces that are truly and evenly dark have become rare, so ebony of darker tones is more highly valued than lighter ebony.


The presence of a hard gum in the heartwood is thought to be the primary factor that gives ebony its unique brittleness, making it suitable for carving even, small pieces. The density of ebony wood varies slightly between samples, but it generally falls between 1.1 and 1.3 kilograms per cubic metre as observed in kiln-dried wood.

Grain and texture

Ebony has a fine, even texture, contributing to its naturally lustrous appearance. Grain is usually straight, but some interlocking may be evident. The end-grain, which is observable in transverse cuts, may appear porous. The growth rings are not distinct, but the presence of black mineral deposits may be apparent.

Uses of ebony wood

Ebony wood suppliers use ebony primarily for small pieces, including the black keys on a piano and small parts of other musical instruments, such as flutes and violins. Ebony may also be used in wood inlays in furniture designs and in handles of knives, brushes and other specialty items.

Ebony wood suppliers

Now you know how to recognise the different kinds of ebony wood, you’ll have a better understanding of what style of ebony wood you’d like. Contact the staff at Ebony by Agora to learn more about ebony wood.